Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Honoring the Sacrifices of Our Veterans
  • $900 Million Moved to PA’s Rainy Day Fund
  • Are You Owed Unclaimed Property?
  • Medicare Beneficiaries: Get Free Health Benefits Counseling
  • Geisinger Opens New Clinic in Tunkhannock
  • Heating Assistance Program Open Now
  • Slow Down, Stay Alert for Deer

Honoring the Sacrifices of Our Veterans

Pennsylvania has 13 million people calling the commonwealth home.  Over one million are veterans.  I was fortunate to be born into a family where there is a history of military service.  My dad was a Staff Sgt. in WWII, my grandfather served in the Spanish American War and my great grandfather was wounded at Battle of Chaffin Farms during the Civil War.

From my earliest childhood memories, I was taught the principles of democracy and to cherish the freedoms that our veterans have protected, courageously and effectively, for nearly 250 years.  In our neighborhood, patriotism was a virtue you lived.  I remember my father raising the flag every morning and lowering it every night.

There are many holidays and observances marked on our calendars.  Veterans’ Day is different from the rest.  It is a day of civic participation.  It is open to people of every age, of every religion, of every political persuasion, of every profession and trade.  Nothing in law compels us to honor our veterans.  It is our choice to observe the solemnity and gratitude of the occasion.

The men and women who serve in our armed forces protect every one of us.  They protect the ideals of freedom that underpin the places where we learn, where we work, where we worship, and where we live.

Veterans Day is not a 24-hour, once-and-done chance to honor veterans.  The truth is we should acknowledge, salute, and thank veterans every day.  Just as they are special in our eyes, young people are special in their eyes.  For you represent the future they helped to ensure.  When they see you using your freedom in productive ways, when they see you participating in community and civic life, it reaffirms that what they did mattered.

Last week, we gathered at Misericordia University to celebrate our veterans and thank them for their courage and devotion.  We heard from 99-year-old WWII veteran Willis Ide about his service in the European Theater where he fought during the Battle of the Bulge. His three brothers also made contributions under other campaigns of the war. This Veteran’s Day, I hope that people take the time to visit our veterans, to learn about their experiences, to discover what motivated them, and to listen to their wisdom and advice.  I hope that people send them cards, pay them visits, contribute to their comfort, and include them in their prayers.

Without question, Pennsylvania’s veterans through service and sacrifice have kept us going – our freedoms, our democratic institutions, our way of life, our opportunity to live and work and prosper in this great land of America.  Our veterans are a blessing for whom we are deeply grateful. 

$900 Million Moved to PA’s Rainy Day Fund

Thanks to the disciplined spending of Senate and House Republicans, nearly $900 million was transferred to Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund. The transfer was the third-largest in the state’s history.

The fund, which exceeds $6.1 billion, provides protection from economic downturns and other unforeseen circumstances. It shields Pennsylvanians from being subjected to a tax increase at a time they would already be struggling financially.

Having a healthy Rainy Day Fund has also improved the state’s rating with the nation’s major credit rating bureaus. Moody’s Financial Services and S&P Global Ratings both affirmed the commonwealth’s bond rating and revised the state’s long-term outlook from stable to positive in September.

Are You Owed Unclaimed Property?

The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is currently holding more than $4.5 billion in unclaimed property, with about one in 10 residents eligible to recoup that property.

Unclaimed property includes dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policies and contents of forgotten safe deposit boxes. The amounts can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars, with the average value of a claim being about $1,600.

To find out if you or a member of your family is entitled to unclaimed property, please visit Unclaimed property can now be returned via direct deposit, and the process can be further expedited if the claimant provides their Social Security number when filing a claim. Because all property will be returned free of charge, there is no need to pay a private service to submit a claim.

Medicare Beneficiaries: Get Free Health Benefits Counseling

The open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries is active now until Dec. 7. Any new coverage selected or changes to existing benefits will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage and health plans to complement Medicare, and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and join, switch or drop Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Coverage so that it better meets their needs.

To help Medicare beneficiaries understand their options, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging offers free, objective health benefits counseling through Pennsylvania Medicare Education and Decision Insight (PA MEDI). Available at Pennsylvania’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging, PA MEDI counselors can assist Medicare beneficiaries with plan comparisons, help with enrollment in a new plan and evaluate eligibility for any of Pennsylvania’s Medicare cost-savings programs. Learn more here.

Geisinger Opens New Clinic in Tunkhannock

Geisinger Healthcare recently opened its new clinic in Tunkhannock. Wyoming County residents gathered for a tour, as well as to enjoy food from Greenley’s BBQ and desserts from the culinary students at Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center. Participants in SCCTC’s Practical Nursing and Healthcare Technology program also offered their assistance.

Like the previous location, primary care, women’s health, ear, nose and throat, pharmacy, laboratory, and imaging services will be provided. Outpatient care for neurology and general surgery will also be available. Expanded services include outpatient cardiology and hematology/oncology. 

The walk-in clinic at the new site will be upgraded to a ConvenientCare+ model that will help address the county’s need for emergency services. There, patients can have advanced treatment for non-life-threatening emergencies.

Heating Assistance Program Open Now

Residents struggling with their home heating bills may apply for assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps individuals and families pay their heating bills through home heating energy assistance grants. It also provides crisis grants to help in the event of an emergency or if a resident is in danger of losing his or her heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of utility service.

The income eligibility guidelines for LIHEAP are $21,870 for an individual, $29,580 for a couple and $45,000 for a family of four. Find limits for other family sizes here. Residents may apply for LIHEAP online or by contacting their local county assistance office.

Slow Down, Stay Alert for Deer

As the fall breeding season for deer is in full swing, it is more important than ever to slow down and remain alert for activity. This is particularly important in the commonwealth as Pennsylvania drivers unfortunately face one of the highest rates nationwide of a vehicular accident involving a big game animal, like deer: a 1-in-59 chance.

Drivers can reduce their chance of collisions with deer – and the associated injuries and property damage – by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Deer often travel in groups and walk in single file. If one deer crossed the road in front of a driver, another could be right behind it.

A driver who hits a deer with a vehicle is only required to report the accident to the Game Commission within 24 hours if the deer dies and the Pennsylvania resident wishes to keep the carcass. To do so, they can call 1-833-742-4868 or 1-833-742-9453. An agency dispatcher will collect the information needed to provide a free permit number. To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-349-7623.


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